Take Heart, Erectile Dysfunction Remedies Boost Male Health

Dr Geo Espinosa headshot

by Dr. Geo Espinosa


It’s not unusual for erectile dysfunction symptoms to cause heartache but did you know that erectile dysfunction (ED), commonly known as impotence, is a reliable indicator of future heart problems? In fact, causes of erectile dysfunction are intertwined with overall male health.

For young men especially, ED is indicative of future heart problems.

What is Erectile Dysfunction, or Impotence?

The penis is a barometer for male health. Since erectile dysfunction symptoms are linked to various forms of heart disease, failure to obtain an erection for more than three months may be a sign of an incoming cardiac event that necessitates erectile dysfunction treatment.

According to the Massachusetts Male Aging Study conducted in 1994, erectile dysfunction is a common problem in aging men. More than half the men over 50 and more than two-thirds of men over 70 have ED. A more recent review in the European Heart Journal showed that ED has a strong connection with heart disease.

In patients who had ED:

  • Cardiovascular events were 44% more common
  • Cardiovascular mortality rose by 19%
  • Heart attacks were 62% more likely
  • Cerebrovascular events (such as stroke) were 39% more likely
  • All-cause mortality was 25% more likely

What connects erectile dysfunction and heart health? Poor arterial health, and an important compound called Nitric Oxide (NO).

Nitric Oxide: Linking the Causes of ED with CVD

Nitric Oxide is mainly responsible for widening the arteries during physical activity but it also plays a role in sexual activity. It opens the arteries in the penis so that blood can flow in and cause an erection. Without nitric oxide, the arteries don’t expand as they normally would. Plaque ends up forming on the walls of the arteries, and this leads to a variety of heart problems including heart attack and stroke.

This plaque doesn’t just form on the walls of arteries in the heart and around the brain. It collects on all the arteries in the body, and the penis is no exception. What’s different about the penis though, is that you can easily see whether or not it’s working (It’s harder to look inside your artery!). And since erections depend on healthy arteries, an erect penis is a great marker of a healthy cardiovascular system.

In Chinese medicine, the Heart Channel is related to the Kidney Channel within the Shao Yin channels. It is also indirectly related to the kidneys through the Du Mai and Ren Mai, both of which flow through the heart and originate from the space between the kidneys. Both the Du and Ren Mai have a profound influence on sexuality and sexual function including sexual desire, sexual arousal, erection, maintenance of erection and ejaculation.

Furthermore, the Chong Mai also starts from the space between the kidneys and goes to the heart. Additionally, it controls the zong muscles in the abdomen, which many interpret as being the penis. The heart and the penis link is apparent.

man and woman happy piggybacking

The natural treatment protocol should firstly aim to prevent or resolve the metabolic syndrome by prescribing lifestyle changes for the patient.

Erectile Dysfunction: Common but not Normal

Impotence is a common problem but I wouldn’t call it normal. Because of the strong links between erectile dysfunction and cardiovascular issues, and perhaps stronger links between cardiovascular health, diet, and exercise, I see the penis as a kind of gauge for overall male health.

When the fluid transport systems in the body are working correctly, erections are a natural result. But when arteries are clogged and hardened by an unhealthy lifestyle, the arteries in the penis take a hit just as much as the arteries in the heart. As a result, erections are blocked.

What do we learn from these erectile dysfunction symptoms? First, frequent and regular erections are a sign of good cardiovascular health. Of course, this does not apply to men who have undergone prostate cancer treatment like surgery or radiation.

Keep in mind though, ED is not necessarily a sign of a heart problem; the latter can be caused by anxiety as well, and a failure to rise could stem from fear, discomfort, or other psychological problems. But if you do not perceive these problems, then you should take a look at your lifestyle.

So, how many erections should men be getting? What’s a “day in the life” of a healthy penis? If you’re not sexually active, you should experience morning erections at least 3 to 4 times a week. During regular sleep each night, the average man has between three and five erections. And, of course, usually, it should not be difficult to gain an erection leading up to sexual activity.

Takeaway: Natural Remedies for Erectile Dysfunction

An astute physician should always ask male patients about the quantity and quality of their erection. It’s a medical question. For young men especially, ED is indicative of future heart problems.

The natural treatment protocol should firstly aim to prevent or resolve the metabolic syndrome by prescribing lifestyle changes for the patient. Exercising and cutting out processed foods from the diet is a good start.

In addition, to make sure that the body produces enough NO, you may need to get extra L-Arginine from animal protein and nuts. Better yet, consider L-Citrulline supplementation, which is a nutrient that makes more L-Arginine in the body than L-Arginine itself. It has shown to help with the sexual function. A typical dose of L-Citrulline for an improved sexual function is 750mg to 1500mg a day, combined with other nutrients for synergistic value, including Rhodiola, Ashwagandha and pomegranate extract.

Whether or not you need to bolster your supplement intake, knowing the causes of erectile dysfunction and how it is best treated will ensure that you skip a heartbeat for all the right reasons!

Vlachopoulos C, Jackson G, Stefanadis C, and Montorsi P. (2013). Erectile Dysfunction in the Cardiovascular Patient. Eur Heart J. 34(27): 2034-2046.